Thursday, 19 September 2019

Ceisteanna (27)

Willie Penrose


27. Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht her plans to create a specific funding scheme for community groups to assist them in the conservation and promotion of biodiversity; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [37913/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Culture)

On the 3rd September, I announced a contribution of €100,000 towards The Community Foundation for Ireland’s Biodiversity Fund - one of our Seeds for Nature. The total grant allocation this year through the fund will be €370,000. It will be awarded to 56 organisations covering each county in Ireland to tackle biodiversity loss within their community.

I am delighted that my Department was able to participate in such a scheme which provides grants to help communities develop local biodiversity plans. Biodiversity loss is a pressing issue and it is important that every sector of society plays its role. The fund is an example of how Government, communities and philanthropy have come together to create real, on the ground impact.

Successful applicants are awarded grants from €5,000 to €10,000 to conduct local biodiversity studies with a trained ecologist and to engage others in the area, including farmers, to get a clear picture of the biodiversity needs in their communities. Future involvement in this scheme will be considered by my Department as part of its normal budgetary estimates process.

In addition, as part of the Seeds for Nature which I announced earlier this year at the National Biodiversity Conference, my Department has expanded on the existing scheme of National Biodiversity Action Plan grants to local authorities to assist them in funding locally led biodiversity projects and to raise awareness of biodiversity issues at local level. A total of €500,000 has been made available to 28 local authorities who applied in 2019.

My Department also provides funding each year to An Taisce to support the biodiversity component of their successful Green Schools programme. I place great value on this programme and its importance in introducing young people to engagement with biodiversity at an early age.

Biodiversity Week takes place annually in May, to coincide with the UN International Day for Biological Diversity. My Department provides funding each year to the Irish Environmental Network to run a series of events and activities at a local level, aiming to engage citizens in biodiversity and raise awareness across communities.

I will continue to look at ways in which targeted funding can be made available to promote and assist biodiversity awareness and locally-led projects in the context of resources available to my Department and the demands on those resources.